Top 10 Swimming Movies

Whether you want a movie that will make you laugh, cry, think, or a combination of all three, you’ll find swimming movies you’ll love on this top 10 list. Share the list with your friends and sign up for swimming lessons with SwimJim.


This film takes place in 1974, where Jim Ellis, a college-educated, former competitive swimmer, struggling to find employment. Ellis, while working on a run-down swimming pool discovers a group of African-American teenage boys have a talent for swimming. He forms the city’s first all African American competitive swimming team, and trains the boys not only to swim, but to face the struggles of their lives as well.

Swimming Upstream

Anthony (Tony) Fingleton was abused physically and emotionally by his father. Tony and his siblings find solace in swimming. Once his father sees he has talent, he decides to train Tony. At first Tony swims to make his father proud, but he eventually sees it as a way to escape his life of poverty and abuse in Brisbane.

The Swimmer

In this film, Ned Merrill, a wealthy man in advertising notices how many pools there are in his upscale suburb while visiting a friend. He makes his way home by traveling from swimming pool to swimming pool. However, viewers discover more about Merrill as he faces various failures and experiences from his past.

On a Clear Day

In this sober film featuring the English Channel, Peter Mullan stars in this Scottish drama as Frank Redmond, a recently laid-off man who spirals into a deep depression. With the support of his friends, he decides to bring focus and purpose back into his life by attempting to swim the English Channel.

Million Dollar Mermaid

Esther Williams stars as real-life influential Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman in this musical romantic drama. Annette used swimming to strengthen herself and recover from her childhood polio. This love of swimming paired with her passion for dance led her to pioneer synchronized swimming.


This New Zealand film follows Alex Archer, a teen with a dream of competing in the 1960 Rome Olympics in the women’s 100m freestyle event. Unfortunately, her life does not allow her to focus solely on swimming like other top competitors. Without the support of her family, she has to juggle school, piano, ballet, personal tragedy and more.

Dangerous When Wet

Esther Williams plays Katie Higgins, a sweet daughter of a dairy farmer in this musical comedy. Katie enters a contest to become the first person to ever swim across the English Channel. The movie features a love triangle, charming music, dancing, and even the lovable cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry.


After being saved by a mermaid as a small boy, a young Tom Hanks unknowingly falls in love with the same mermaid 20 years later when she seeks him out in disguise in New York City. The pair faces the challenges of secrets love, secrets, and a scientist determined to prove the existence of mermaids.

The Guardian

Ben Randall is the top rescue swimmer/diver in the US Coast Guard AST rescue team. After tragedy strikes, he becomes an instructor at the Coast Guard training school.


High school swim champion Jake Fischer enrolls in the program despite invitations to swim at Ivy League universities. His arrogance causes him to butt heads with Randall as he goes through the program. The characters teach each other about loss, sacrifice, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

The Thirteenth Year

This movie follows the story of Cody Griffin, a popular adopted teen with a natural talent for swimming, which he gets from his birth mother—a mermaid. Cody knows nothing of his fantastical heritage until he starts to go through changes when he turns thirteen, such as his hands and arms growing scales when wet. With the help of his geeky Biology partner, Jess, he discovers he is turning into a merman.